Enugu State Governor Sullivan Chime has been given 21 days by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, during which he is expected to apologize to his estranged wife, Clara, or face a legal action.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja in commemoration of the 2013 World Human Rights Day, the group further implored the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to promptly release the final report of its investigation into the petition that was filed before it by Governor Chime’s wife, even as it condemned the preliminary report that suggested that the woman was mentally deranged.
HURIWA spoke through its National Coordinator, Mr Emmanuel Onwubiko, decrying that Enugu State was among the few states yet to domesticate many of the pro-women and pro-children legislations like the Child’s Rights Act of 2003. “In fact, Enugu is one of the 12 States of the federation and the only state in Southern Nigeria yet to domesticate the Child’s Rights Act,” it added.
“Recall that HURIWA commended Chief Femi Falana, SAN, for accepting the challenge to seek redress for the detained Clara Chime and also recall that the National Human Rights Commission, at the instance of a petition filed in that regard by Chief Falana, stepped into the matter and commenced investigation into the allegation of illegal detention of a Nigerian citizen inside a Government House built with tax payers’ money, but turned into an illegal detention facility allegedly by the Governor of Enugu State.
“Unfortunately, the said ‘PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE’, happens to be no other person but the second legally married wife of the same Governor who is being alleged as the human right violator in this case.
“Recall also that the Governor had interpretatively admitted aspects of the said allegation, but on the flimsy and unsustainable excuse that his wife had medical challenges. It is a most hollow and pointless excuse, which has been widely condemned by the human rights community and men and women of good conscience since Enugu State Government House is not a medical facility. “Gentlemen, recall also that while the National Human Rights Commission began the said independent investigation, reports emerged that the Enugu State Governor allegedly bundled his wife out of her alleged detention facility and sent her packing to God knows where. At the last count, we read in some media accounts that the helpless woman had moved in with her sister somewhere in the Southern part of Nigeria even as a suspected sponsored blackmail soft sale story circulated the unsubstantiated story that Mrs. Chime checked into a mental home in the United Kingdom.
“We want to unequivocally register our displeasure over the foot-dragging of the National Human Rights Commission on this matter. We are appalled that several weeks after this sad, shameful and embarrassing development became public knowledge, and months after the same story spread as hot cake in the grapes vine, the Commission has failed so far to exhibit the desired level of urgency, transparency, and accountability on this matter.
“The Commission is yet to come clean and tell Nigerians its findings in black and white, backed up by empirical medical data and forensic evidence regarding the claims that Mrs. Clara Chime indeed underwent gruelling, sordid, senseless and insensitive maltreatment as well as flagrant breaches of her constitutionally protected human rights, including the fundamental human rights to association, movement, and freedom of speech whilst she was allegedly kept under locks and keys on the orders of the Governor prior to the intervention of God fearing individuals including the reputable legal practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Whilst being mindful of the fact that we need not unduly intervene in anyone’s private affair, but whenever there are public allegations of human rights violations that remain un-investigated or shabbily investigated, our consciences oblige us to vigorously campaign and draw the national and international attention of civilized people and to campaign for immediate redress of these violations, irrespective of the social status of the offender and the victim.
“Furthermore, as we mark the World Human Rights Day, gentlemen, we regret to inform you that our findings show that Enugu is notorious for disrespecting the fundamental human rights of women and children.”
The group, in its nine-points demand, therefore asked the NHRC, to immediately inform Nigerians in black and white of its findings regarding the allegations of “arbitrary and inhumane arrest and illegal detention of the wife of the Enugu State Governor allegedly by her now estranged husband who is said to have also separated from his first wife in alleged rancorous and indecorous manners.
“We demand that the NHRC should also publicly seek evidence from people in the know regarding the allegation that Mrs. Chime prior to her latest ‘sack’ from her alleged matrimonial ‘detention’ facility was indeed allegedly maltreated and denied her fundamental rights to freedom of association and movement. Human rights are sacrosanct, inviolable, inalienable and importantly universal and their breaches must be investigated promptly, impartially, and independently and the outcome transparently rendered through publicly accountable process.
“State unequivocally that we will mobilize the human rights community and men and women of good conscience to a mother of all protests should there be the slightest conjectures or half-baked, concocted, and manufactured stories to favour Governor Sullivan Chime in this matter. We will also head to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Office of the Un-Rapporteur in charge of United Nations Women Commission to demand redress.
“Demand unreserved public apology, in the meantime, from Governor Sullivan Chime within one week from today for these series of alleged violations of the rights of his wife and the womenfolk in a democratic society.”
“Demand that the Enugu State House of Assembly immediately commences processes of impeachment of Governor Sullivan Chime in the event of his failure to tender public apology and make redresses.
“Indeed, a proactive legislature ought to have since commenced impeachment processes against Governor Chime for the very reason that the image of that state has been brought into disrepute by the level of allegations of illegal detention of the First Lady of a state allegedly by armed security operatives serviced with taxpayers money.
“Demand that the National Human Rights Commission should be aware that the reputation of Mrs. Chime is at risk if this matter of rights violations is undermined through behind the table dealing. Justice delayed is justice denied and our women deserves all the fundamental rights that are inherently theirs as respected members of the human community same as their male counterparts,” the group noted.